27 November 2009

Are You an In or an Out Leader?

How much time and energy are you spending in (or with) your team and how much time out in the wider organisation? It might seem like a simple question, but executives rarely take the time to think about it. It's important to do though, because this single question could answer many other questions that you — or your boss — have about your style and effectiveness.

Executives usually have a preference for one arena, which can be reinforced by their role, their personality, or even the corporate culture. A quality control manager, for example, would naturally be more inwardly focused while a communications director would roam across the business. Both roles would attract different personalities. Similarly, some organisations are structured as, or have developed into, silos due to the nature of their business or markets. Examples might include law firms, where separate practices evolve to serve clients in specific areas.

My suggestion is that executives need to balance the time they spend in both the In and Out arenas if they are to be effective.
via blogs.harvardbusiness.org

24 November 2009

Applications to the AIESEC Norway national board 2010-2011 are out

When a student or recent graduate leads a whole organization, that is something especial. The opportunity to work in a high level strategic job as I am having now as AIESEC Norway president, and previously as VP Talent Management, is something that I am sure will only be present in my life in +-10 years (if I manage to climb fast). I am extremelly grateful for those opportunities and I believe only someone that is utterly dumb (or untalented) would leave AIESEC without experiencing it.

AIESEC Norway MC 2010-2011 are open. You can download it here (if you are a member of AIESEC).

But this is not a job for everyone, so don't even consider applying if:

- you don't believe AIESEC Norway can make more exchanges;
- you believe AIESEC Norway should stop during exams;
- you think of quitting or doesn't care if you don't achieve your goals, instead of learning and doing your best next time;
- you think you are too good to make the same job as a member would do;
- what you say is not the same of what you do;
- you want to get a lot of money before 2011;
- your first question when you are getting a new job is "how much vacation do I get?";
- you do not thrive in challenging situations and you avoid challenges and conflicts.

Are you not sure if this is for you? Send me a mail or call me or anything, I am open to have a cool chat with you about it.

15 November 2009


I keep postponing to talk about the amazing things I've experienced so far as President of AIESEC Norway because I want to write about them in details - bad, bad habit, because there are so many amazing things that they pile up and this leads to a situation where I never talk about them. So, I will try to put them all together in one post. The AWESOMENESS POST.

1 - Coaching visit to Local Committee University of Stavanger

In our national board job, we have a huge role which is to coach local committes. I am the coach of UiS and what this means in reality is that I have to do a consulting job with them to increase their performance. UiS is a very small local committee, they started just 2 years ago and almost no structure were in place. In fact they barely had members, only 4 or 5.

When I arrived there, I could see there were lots of things not in place, like for example the corporate relations - in 6 months they had only 3 business meetings, a total disaster. They were struggling and the few members they had were feeling they were failling big time, thus making the general mood being very down, because these guys have been working a lot. In fact 2 of the executive board had quitted also and a 3rd one was also thinking of quitting. Terrible state to be in, especially when you just recruited new members. This was looking like the recipe of disaster, if they kept the same pace, they would lose all the new members recruited and frustration would be in the air.

Instead of puting me down, their problems in fact energized me, I was excited to be back at the ground level to help them solve problems. I decided to step up and change the game. I gathered the executive board and had an intense day of work on feedback and suggestions to the LC and building up solutions. I felt energized because even though the problems were deep, I totally believed in their ability. The only thing they needed was passion and direction. And we built up this together.

Today (1-2 months after my visit), I can see the changes in UiS. Their members are passionate and motivated. They are having tons of fun while working very very very hard. And they have super talented people. If in 6 months they booked 3 meetings only, in one week they booked 8, talk about improving fast. I am 100% confident that these people that are in UiS now will change this local committee in an enduring way, shaping their culture for the next generation.

Extra random point about the visit: I never felt so welcome in any coaching visit: I had my own room, we went to 2 parties, 1 norwegian typical dinner and people really wanted to make the changes in UiS.

2 - Excel 2009 - AIESEC Norway National Conference

This one absolutely blew my mind. It was even more positive then I was dreaming it could be. What I saw was a different AIESEC Norway for ever before. Everything was just absolutely perfect:

- The content - the agenda was very well built and the content delivered with passion, creativity and focus. I believe at the end of the conference it was very clear the country direction and who was responsible to make it happen and how.

- The delegates - very lively, energetic, smart and willing to learn. What a crowd. I am so proud of our members. If they keep that kind of energy level and fun in their AIESEC every day work, I am sure they will do good.

- Facis - it was mainly the national board and some talented local committee vice-presidents. The content was delivered smoothly and in lots of cases in a very creative way.

- The conference organization committee and logistics - they were so amazing people. Always smilling, very focused on client satisfaction, these people put on a real show: amazing food, everything on time, great session rooms, party, everything. From the basics to details, the organization committee rocked the house - and, of course, the conference ended up in a profit.

- "Externals" - in AIESEC conferences all around the world we have this word "externals" to say about the people who are not in AIESEC, but they are there in the conference as representatives of other organizations or the government. In the case of Excel, we had 2 sets of externals that were just mind blowing: DnB Nor and CTI.

DnB Nor put a show that will be hard to match in the future. They delivered a full day of leadership development to our AIESEC members, which was part in fact of their own leadership development program. It was a great added value to our members and, not only that, it was also extremely fun and impressive. They had famous classical musicians, normal plenary sessions, skills workshops and also in the end a huge interactive session where every member had a different percussion instrument. The analogies with leadership were perfect: when playing, you have to combine listening to what is around you and playing your own music; the diversity of instruments (talents) made possible that in fact we had good music (if everyone had the same instrument, it would be very difficult for 80 amateurs to pull this off); leadership is about giving a base that people can use as a guideline, but also giving the possibility for people to solo with their own way, etc etc etc. I loved it. Some pictures of the DnB Nor leadership day with AIESEC Norway:

CTI had a short session on what is coaching. They offer an appetizer to our members, that thanks to our partnership can get professional coaching with very very competitive prices. They also give the whole national board a 3 days coaching course that is so amazing. I cannot describe how lucky I am for having this opportunity. Here are the coaching couple dancing in the moment:

- Sunny Bergen - believe it or not, it was sunny most of the time during the conference!

3 - National Board Team Days

Each quarter the national board gets together, stops for 2-3 days and evaluate where we are, where we are going, what we need to change, etc. It's the most powerful team management tool I use, because it's a mix of interpersonal relationship, direction, celebration of success and adjusting the things that didn't work so well, strategic creative discussions, etc.

It's just too awesome to describe, you have to be there and live it - and to live it, you have to be a member of the national board. I consider myself very lucky, because my team is simply the most awesome I ever saw. Such talents you don't find easily everywhere. They are challenging to lead, as any room full of only talented people, and I learn everyday with them.

I am so grateful for being the President of AIESEC Norway. This kind of opportunity, with this level of job I won't see very soon in my career. Probably it will take at least 10 years in a "normal company" to do the same things I am doing today at the top of my 27 years old.

I wish every human being have the same opportunity as I have, that's why I want AIESEC to keep growing, especially here in Norway.

14 November 2009

What great managers do

Great managers set expectations. Expectations are the milestones we use to measure our progress and, within the workplace, mark the pathways that guide us toward achievement.

Great managers define the right outcomes first, and then let each person find his or her own route toward those outcomes. This approach allows the individual to grow via the discovery of his or her "path of least resistance." It appreciates and values differences between employee styles and lets people capitalise on their strengths to achieve their fullest potential as well as encourage responsibility.

Give the opportunity to do best. The task of the best managers is to clearly define the talents needed for each role, and then choose the right person for that role. A manager's job is not to make people develop talents they do not have, but to identify and utilise their existing talents to their full potential, and give them an "opportunity to do what they do best every day."

Genuinely care. Gallup finds that great managers possess identifiable talents or recurring patterns of thought, feelings and behaviours. These managers find a true sense of satisfaction when their staff develop their skills and succeed, even if the employees' success surpasses that of the manager. They genuinely care about the people they work with.

Encourage opinions. Great places to work are those where employees' opinions count, encourage great ideas to flow and be heard, and then processed and refined.

Not all ideas will be successfully implemented, but the process of refining ideas is still wonderfully productive -- it builds employees' confidence in the firm and shows that their efforts can make the firm better.

Great managers never ask employees for their opinions and then do the opposite without a clear explanation.

Explain the company's mission [[AIESEC WAY]]. Great workplaces give their employees a sense of purpose, help them feel they belong, and enable them to make a difference.

Every individual has a unique sense of purpose, and individuals find different meanings in similar situations.

Great managers continually strive to help individuals understand how the firm's purpose/mission directly relates to individual duties.

Keep employees doing quality work. Often, the definition of quality sets the tone of a workplace culture. If quality is defined as the absence of defects or mistakes, we indirectly encourage employees to cover up mistakes or problems quickly.

Great managers realise that human beings make mistakes, and can learn from correcting them. In healthy workplaces, staff are being challenged to improve their product or service by defining "quality" as the process of recognising and solving problems.
A problem can also bring out a greater sense of teamwork. Employees who are committed to doing quality work know that a problem can improve team cohesiveness. They use the power of the team not only to overcome the crisis, but also to correct the process to avoid future problems.

Encourage learning and growth. Every day, great managers face the challenge of creating a culture that is open to new ideas and lets employees explore possible implications of those ideas without fear of rejection or retribution.

For employees, the creation of a culture receptive to new ideas also involves significant belief and trust in their managers and teams. A company's future is dependent on the learning and growth of the employees who are closest to the action.
Great managers, employees and teams are rarely quite satisfied with current ways of doing things. They always feel a slight tension about finding better, more efficient ways to work. Great managers always encourage their staff to "learn and grow."

From Gallup.

13 November 2009

I booked a meeting today

For the first time in my life I booked a company meeting today. I think I called around 20 companies until I got a "yes". Even though I have an extensive knowledge on AIESEC and what we do, I still struggled a bit until I could call the right company and had the right sales pitch. It's so easy to say "no" on the phone.

For me a company who says "no" to AIESEC is a company that says "no" to brilliant and passionate talent - but that's another discussion, the important part is that I booked a meeting.

I am totally empathic with our sellers in AIESEC that struggle in the begining and sometimes even lose the motivation, but once you pass the "abyss", then the glory of the sales come and then it's only fun.

2 things that helped (both came from my VP Corporate Relations):

1 - the on the spot pitch to explain what is AIESEC - to explain what is AIESEC in 30s, it's easier if you say something: "AIESEC is a leadership development organization to students and recent graduates. The leadership development program is composed of 2 parts, being one of those an international work experience in the field of students of the student or recent graduate".

2 - speak on the same level, been confident and proud about your product - you don't shy away or beg for a meeting, you are offering the most amazing opportunity for the person on the other side of the phone. Simply act like a champ and get a K.O. Book that damn meeting!


Sales is damn fun, eh?

12 November 2009

Engage 2009 - swedish AIESEC conference

AIESEC is always opening doors for cool opportunities and one of the amazing opportunities I was offered some weeks ago was to chair the AIESEC Sweden's national conference, called Engage.

Being the chair of a national conference is a great honor, because it's the only AIESEC opportunity you don't get o apply to, but you are invited only. The chair holds a lot of influence (sometimes even more than the president), because he is responsible for creating the atmosphere of the conference, connecting messages and make sense of the agenda, lead the logistics and the facilitators team, etc.

I must say that I absolutely had a blast as chair. It was a very challenging experience, but I believe I managed to get the organization committee in my side and also get the respect of facilitators and delegates. I believe I could inspire (and have fun) with all these 3 target audiences. I believe it was a great success.

I cannot describe how happy and honored I felt for having this opportunity. Again, only AIESEC could have given me this.

Some pictures from the conference: